Results of Experiences in Finding and Using Arthritis Services Survey

 

Who took part?

18 people with arthritis took part in a telephone interview or focus group. From this we learned the most common barriers to finding and using arthritis services. We also heard what people with arthritis value when finding and using services. 79 people with arthritis then completed paper or online versions of the survey. The results below are what we learned from the people who completed paper or online surveys.

 

Who do people with arthritis see for the management of their arthritis?

We asked survey participants who they had seen for the management of their arthritis in the previous year. We learned that 76.9% had seen a primary care physician, 66.7% had seen a rheumatologist, 48.7% had seen a physical therapist, 44.9% had seen a pharmacist, and 34.6% had seen an occupational therapist. 95% of people with osteoarthritis had seen a primary care physician for the management of their arthritis. And 90% of people with inflammatory arthritis had received care from a rheumatologist.

 

What are the most common barriers to accessing healthcare services?

The top 4 barriers to finding and using arthritis services in the healthcare system were:

  1. A long wait to receive service once referred,
  2. Limited or no extended health benefits,
  3. Lack of money to pay to see care providers in the private system, and
  4. Finding time and energy to take care of my arthritis in the midst of other responsibilities.

39% of survey participants had no barriers to finding and using arthritis services.

 

Which complementary care providers do people with arthritis commonly see?

62% of survey participants had not seen any complementary care providers in the previous year. Of those who did, 29.9% had seen a massage therapist, 15.6% had seen an acupuncturist, and 14.3% had seen a chiropractor.

 

What community programs and resources do people with arthritis use?

A few community programs and services have been commonly used by survey participants in the past 5 years. 33.7% had been to arthritis education classes, 33.8% had attended general exercise classes (e.g., yoga, tai chi) and 29.9% had been to arthritis exercise classes. Almost half had no barriers in finding and using community programs for their arthritis. 23% stated that lack of money was a barrier to using community programs and 18.9% stated it was hard to find programs and services that are geared to arthritis.

 

What do people with arthritis most value when finding and using arthritis services?

  1.  “Hands on” treatment based on an assessment of my specific needs,
  2. Arthritis monitored on an ongoing basis to catch problems early,
  3. Reasonable wait times to see any arthritis care provider,
  4. Arthritis services close to my home,
  5. GP who knows about arthritis and will refer to needed services (Tied for 5th),
  6. Health care providers who know about and are skilled in treating arthritis (Tied for 5th), and
  7. All necessary services “under one roof”. (Tied for 5th)

 

Ownership of mobile communication devices

Over half of the survey participants owned at least one or more mobile communication devices. A tablet computer was owned by 51.3%, a smartphone by 43.6% and a cell phone by 39.7%. Only 20.5% did not own a mobile phone or tablet.

 

Interest in using mobile technology to connect with care providers

Over half of the survey participants indicated that they were somewhat or very willing to use their mobile phone or table to receive appointment reminders, general health tips, and/or lab/test results. A large majority of survey participants who were 60 years of age or younger were also somewhat or very willing to use their mobile phone or tablet to communicate disease activity information (e.g., information about disease signs and symptoms) and/or information about lifestyle behaviours (e.g., physical activity, food intake, sleep patterns, etc.).

 

How was this information used and where do we go from here?

This information helped to provide the patient perspective at a recent meeting of BC rheumatologists and allied health professionals working in the field of rheumatology. The purpose of that meeting was to start a discussion on how to improve services for people with arthritis in BC. This was the first step and we’re now looking for people with arthritis who want to have their voices heard and be involved in future planning in a more direct way.

 

Many thanks to all of the people with arthritis who contributed to helping us learn about people’s experiences in finding and using arthritis service. If you’re interested in being involved with the future planning of arthritis services in BC, please contact Paul Adam – Paul.Adam@vch.ca